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2018's Best Movies That Critics Were Totally Wrong About

If you ever look up reviews of your favorite films, you might find yourself shaking your head and wondering if these critics watched the same movie that you did. Sometimes, critics fawn all over something that bombs at the box office and gets a mediocre response from audiences, and other times, viewers have nothing but praise for a film that critics seem to detest. Obviously, movie critics aren't totally objective — they have their own biases and preferences just like everyone else, and just because critics rave about a certain film doesn't mean that audiences will agree.

Throughout 2018, there were plenty of major blockbusters and indie films alike that were big hits with audiences despite being panned by critics. Don't let the negative reviews discourage you from checking them out — sure, not every movie is destined to be the next Citizen Kane, but that doesn't mean these new releases aren't worth watching. Here are a few surprisingly good films that deserve a second look, contrary to the critical consensus.


Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, Venom has been making bank at the box office despite earning the title of "perhaps the worst Marvel-derived origin story ever" from The Seattle Times. And if that wasn't bad enough, it was dubbed a nearly "unwatchable disaster" by the Toronto Star, supposedly saved only by Tom Hardy's leading performance as journalist Eddie Brock and Venom.

The character Venom first appeared on the big screen in 2007's Spider-Man 3, but in this film, viewers get a look at Venom's own origin story and character development. When Eddie Brock tries to investigate the secretive Life Foundation for allegedly running human trials on the effects of mysterious alien symbiotes, he ends up getting tangled up in the experiment after accidentally bonding with a symbiote and developing strange powers. Even though Venom has been criticized for everything from the dialogue to the CGI to the cinematography, it's a fun, campy film that stands on its own, separate from any Spider-Man storyline. The technical details might be clunky, and the visuals might seem cliche, but it's the kind of train wreck that you won't feel guilty about sticking around to watch.

The Little Stranger

Based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger received mixed reviews from critics, but perhaps it's because this film is not easily defined by any given genre. Set in 1940s, The Little Stranger tells the story of Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) and his recurring encounters with the supernatural at an old estate called Hundreds Hall.

As a child, Faraday once visited Hundreds Hall with his mother, who worked there as a maid. After becoming a practicing physician later in life, he makes a house call to the estate, but he comes to realize that the strange behavior of the current inhabitants might be influenced by a paranormal entity. The Little Stranger straddles the line between straight horror and psychological thriller, and although the New York Post wrote it off as "occasionally spooky, but often snoozy," this creepy, atmospheric family drama might have you thinking twice about every bump you hear in the night.


When director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody put their heads together, they tend to create movie magic, and that's exactly what happened with their most recent film, Tully. Marlo (Charlize Theron) is a stressed, sleep-deprived mother of two with another (surprise) baby on the way. When her brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for a night nanny to lessen her load, she initially refuses. But eventually, she caves and hires a nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis), and the two form an intense and intimate bond. Tully is about to change Marlo's life in a way that she doesn't fully understand.

While some critics felt that Theron's performance was the only winning note in this film, Tully's strength lies in the fact that it shows a realistic side of modern motherhood that most movies are hesitant to touch on. Marlo might be exhausted and overworked, but she refuses to lose her own identity in motherhood, and there are plenty of women who can relate to her difficult balancing act.

The Clovehitch Killer

The Clovehitch Killer only received a limited theatrical release, so if you happened to miss it, look past the mixed bag of reviews and get ready to be engrossed in a mystery centered on small town secrets. Tyler (Charlie Plummer) lives with his dedicated and devout Christian family in a tiny Kentucky town. When he discovers evidence that connects his father to a string of unsolved murder cases, he's unsure of who he can really trust. He seeks helps from Kassi (Madisen Beaty), who goes to his church, and together, they try to investigate what everyone in town is really hiding.

The New York Times noted the "achingly slow build" and "lack of urgency" in The Clovehitch Killer, but the steady pacing grounds the film in a sense of realism that is often missing from other suspenseful dramas. The Clovehitch Killer is unsettling enough without speeding up the plot. Being patient with this storyline is worth the final payoff.

Vox Lux

It's a bit shocking that Vox Lux didn't get more love from critics. With Natalie Portman in a leading role and a plot that touches on so many topical themes of modern American life, it seems like this drama would receive a little more positive acclaim. Vox Lux follows the story of pop star Celeste, who survives a school shooting with her sister Ellie in 1999. When they write and perform a song about the experience, they end up in the spotlight, and Celeste manages to turn her fifteen minutes of fame into a real career.

As the film returns to Celeste's adult life, she's raising her teenage daughter while trying to prepare for a huge concert and dealing with the blowback from a major international scandal: a terrorist group is using her trademark symbol. Although Vox Lux got some criticism for trying to juggle too many major themes at once, maybe that's what makes the film worth seeing. It doesn't shy away from tackling several serious issues, and it somehow ties them all together into one cohesive plot.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the sequel to the 2015 film Jurassic World, and in the new installment of the revived Jurassic Park franchise, fans see heroes Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the big screen. After the disaster at Isla Nublar, the U.S. government is debating whether or not the dinosaurs on the island should be rescued from an impending volcanic eruption. When the Senate rules that they will leave the dinosaurs to die, Claire and her team come up with a plan to save them on their own.

Just like the first Jurassic World film, Fallen Kingdom is a fun summer blockbuster jam-packed with CGI dinos and exciting, nail-biting battles. Ars Technica may have called it a "B movie" with "cartoonish villains," but that's not exactly an insult — in fact, it's exactly what audiences signed up for when they bought their tickets.

The Meg

Naturally, The Meg was released in August, the perfect time to freak out a few beachgoers. Based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, the movie is all about a group of scientists who unexpectedly run into a megalodon shark in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. The species was thought to be extinct, but now, this ancient monster is about to terrorize anyone who sets foot in the ocean. The Meg isn't going for realism, but it's got plenty of moments that will make you laugh, and a few that will make you shudder.

The film may have been criticized as "neither good enough nor bad enough" by Variety, but The Meg hits that sweet spot somewhere between Jaws and Sharknado. It's just scary enough to make you hesitate the next time you dip your toes in the water, and audiences enjoyed it enough to prompt the development of a sequel.

The Nun

The Nun, a loose spin-off of the 2016 film The Conjuring 2, is the fifth installment in The Conjuring franchise, and turned out to be the highest-grossing entry since the original. Although fans of the series flocked to theaters to see it, critics didn't exactly hold it in high esteem.

When two nuns at a Romanian abbey are attacked by a paranormal force as they try to retrieve an ancient relic, neither ends up surviving the encounter, and the Vatican calls in Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to handle the situation. They eventually discover that the abbey is possessed by the evil entity Valak, and it's up to them to stop it before disaster strikes. While The Nun was dismissed by some critics as a series of jump scares and other horror tropes, fans of The Conjuring series will find that it's a welcome addition to the franchise with familiar themes of the spiritual struggle between good and evil, and Farmiga is always the perfect fit for a spooky role that calls to mind her American Horror Story days.  

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and it brings Eddie Redmayne back to the big screen as Newt Scamander. Unfortunately, this installment in the Harry Potter universe struggled a bit as far as the critics were concerned.

In The Crimes of Grindelwald, Newt must join forces with Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) as they race to stop the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who wants to establish worldwide wizard supremacy at the expense of the Muggle population, even if it means destruction and chaos across the globe. The Crimes of Grindelwald has been lambasted for packing in too many plot twists and tiny details for the audience to keep track of, and perhaps it doesn't feel like the magic is center stage anymore. Still, there's something to be said for a film that demands your close attention throughout if you want to fully grasp the storyline. And with every new addition to the Harry Potter universe, you get to relive your childhood again — what's not to love?


Movies based on video games tend to be hit or miss, to say the least. Although the critics seem to have unanimously decided that Rampage, which was based on the video game series of the same name, was a miss, it could still be a hit with viewers who go into it with the right expectations. The film stars Dwayne Johnson as Davis Okoye, a primatologist who has to team up with a mutant albino gorilla, the result of an experiment gone wrong. What are they fighting against? Oh, just a mutant wolf and crocodile who are intent on destroying Chicago.

As far as sci-fi monster movies go, Rampage really isn't half bad. What could be more fun than watching The Rock and a gorilla join forces to defeat the bad guys? Although Vulture went as far as labeling the film "aggressively dumb," director Brad Peyton clearly knew what his target audience wanted: Rampage was nominated for several Teen Choice Awards.


Skyscraper is another action film starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that definitely struck out with the critics. Will Sawyer is a veteran and former FBI agent who now provides security assessments for skyscrapers. While Sawyer is working at a luxurious new tower known as "The Pearl," the building is suddenly set on fire, and Sawyer finds that he's being blamed. Not only does he have to clear his own name, he has to race against time to save his family, trapped high in the skyscraper.

While many critics noted that Skyscraper felt derivative of other, more memorable disaster movies, we're in the age of sequels and remakes — should taking inspiration from old favorites within the same genre really be grounds for serious criticism? If there's nothing new under the sun, directors may as well as have fun with callbacks to classics. Skyscraper is an exhilarating watch for action movie fans... but if you're afraid of heights, beware.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped Me is a refreshing action flick with a heavy dose of female empowerment and comedy. With a star-studded cast and plenty of moments that had audiences laughing out loud, it's hard to see why critics didn't have much love for this film.

After Audrey (Mila Kunis) is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) via text message, she discovers that he is secretly a CIA agent... and now, he's gone missing. It's up to Audrey and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) to figure out what's happened to him and come to the rescue. Most of the criticism of The Spy Who Dumped Me came back to the film's refusal to pin itself to one single genre. According to The Arizona Republic, it was "trying earnestly to be about half a dozen things." But there's nothing wrong with a little creative genre blending, and with a genuinely hilarious duo like McKinnon and Kunis in the lead, it all comes together for a film that provides a solid evening of entertainment.